The new reproductive biology, in all its complexity, promises untold opportunities for resolving heart-breaking problems of infertility and will clearly expand the meaning of the very term, procreational autonomy, as a reference to both unmarried and married women. Still, the new biology presents equally untold problems for the physician, lawyer, ethicist, theologian and, for that matter, the average person. This article will consider, essentially, one major medical, legal, ethical and religious challenge of the new reproductive biology: in vitro fertilization (IVF).
The article will first survey the force of religion in shaping new attitudes and directions in this area and then summarize the ethical and philosophical concerns about the use and development of IVF procedures. The now famous case of the frozen "orphan" embryos of Melbourne, Australia will serve as a focal paradigm for analysis and point of reference to the work of two study commissions-the Waller Committee in Australia and the Warnock Committee in England-that have charted investigative parameters for work and experimentation in in vitro fertilization procedures.
Finally, the article will probe the complications of complete utilization of IVF by unmarried women and its devastating effect on the sanctity of the family unit. This article concludes that as long as procreation continues to remain the central driving force in a marital relationship and, indeed, in a progressive society, men will undertake new and sometimes controversial endeavors-with or without state or religious approval-in order to expand the period of fecundity and combat infertility. The state must begin to regulate the field now, rather than allow it to develop haphazardly.
George P. Smith, II, Procreational Autonomy v. State Intervention: Opportunity or Crisis for a Brave New World, 2 NOTRE DAME J. L. ETHICS & POL’Y 635 (1986).